Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that forms on the protective lining covering the lungs, abdomen, testicles, or heart. Mesothelioma is always caused by exposure to asbestos. This fatal disease can lay dormant for years or decades before developing, and once a diagnosis is made the prognosis is grim. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, treatment options are available to reduce symptoms and help improve quality of life while living with the disease. Many symptoms of mesothelioma can also appear as the result of other, less serious diseases or illnesses, and are commonly mistaken for more minor ailments. Often, mesothelioma symptoms persist for months before a patient is properly diagnosed.
Symptoms and signs of mesothelioma include:
- Pain in lower back or side of the chest
- Respiratory infection
- Shortness of breath or painful breathing
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Bowel and digestive difficulties
- Swelling and fluid buildup
Being aware of these symptoms, particularly if you have a known exposure to asbestos, can improve the chances of obtaining the earliest possible diagnosis. Early diagnosis can result in more effective mesothelioma treatment options.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, prompt and effective treatment can help alleviate painful symptoms and slow down the cancer’s pace to provide patients with a longer and better life. Scientific research of causes and treatments of this aggressive disease continues, and improvements in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options are being made every year. Treatment decisions are based on a multitude of factors such as the disease’s progression and age and general health of the patient. Options can include combinations of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy, as well as a wide range of new treatment methods currently being tested in clinical trials. Be sure to discuss the various treatment options with your doctor, and research clinical trials which may be available to you.